Climate and Climate Ethics Resources

One of the difficulties in finding information about global heating is that there is so much activity in the various fields that information sources rapidly become out-of-date. Right now, the AR6 Synthesis Report contains the latest information on most sub-fields. It cover climate science very well, and summarizes the relevant economics, but does not cover law, ethics, or politics. Information decays at different rates in different sub-fields, however. The science is changing relatively rapidly, as is climate law, where climate litigation is accelerating. Climate ethics is at the other end of the spectrum: the issues are roughly the same as they were twenty years ago. Economics and politics are in the middle, changing slower than science and law, but faster than ethics.

Climate Change

  • Dean Wallraff, Earthling: A New Ethics for the Anthropocene (Cambridge, UK: Ethics Press, 2023), is my tour of all things relating to climate change, with an ethical perspective. It covers climate ethics, climate science, sustainability, climate economics, climate law and politics, and actions we need to take. It gives a broader perspective on global heating than any other book currently in print.

  • Greta Thunberg, The Climate Book (Penguin Random House, 2023), is a very wide-ranging book with contributions by many experts. It’s a great book for those who are already fairly well steeped in climate because it has in-depth chapters on many niche topics, such as how changes in the Arctic affect the jet stream. But it doesn’t cover the basics, so many of its chapters will be difficult to understand by climate beginners.

Climate Science

The most authoritative reports on climate science and impacts is the AR6 Synthesis Report, published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It was released in 2021 through 2023 and contains the following components:

Good books on climate science:

  • Edmon A. Mathez and Jason E. Smerdon, Climate Change: The Science of Global Warming (New York: Columbia University Press, 2018), an in-depth textbook with a lot of scientific detail

  • John Houghton, Global Warming - The Complete Briefing, 5th ed. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2015), a comprehensive book, getting a bit out of date

  • Andres Dessler, Introduction to Modern Climate Change, 2nd Ed. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2016), a more readable, basic introduction for the layperson

Climate Ethics

  • Dean Wallraff, Earthling, a New Ethics for the Anthropocene (Cambridge, UK: Ethics Press, 2023), my perspective

  • Stephen M. Gardiner et al., Climate Ethics: Essential Readings (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), eighteen chapters on various aspects of climate ethics, primarily by top academic philosophers working in this area

  • William MacAskill, What We Owe the Future (New York: Hachette Book Group, 2022), a different perspective on long-termism

  • Stephen M. Gardiner, A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), a wide-ranging tour of climate-ethics issues, explaining why the problem is so difficult to deal with even though it is so urgent

Climate Economics

  • William Nordhaus, The Climate Casino: Risk, Uncertainty, and Economics for a Warming World (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), a readable, full analysis of climate economics, still fairly up-to-date, which won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2018.

  • Nicholas Stern, The Economics of Climate Change (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007), the other weighty tome on climate economics, a bit long in the tooth now.

Climate Politics

  • Michael E., Mann, The New Climate War (New York: Hachette Book Group, 2021), a good, recent summary of climate politics in the US

  • Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2014), an argument, with lots of good insights, that we need to make our financial and political systems less capitalistic to deal with climate change

  • James Hansen, Storms of my Grandchildren (New York, Bloomsbury USA, 2009), a memoir of one of the top climate scientist’s decades of involvement in fighting climate change